Dunhill Castle In Waterford: A Castle Ruin With A Colourful Past

Dunhill Castle
Photo by John L Breen (Shutterstock)

The craggy ruins of Dunhill Castle in Waterford have some mighty tales attached to them.

Dunhill (Fort of the Rock) Castle is aptly named, considering its location on a hill overlooking the Irish Ocean.

Evidence suggests that a fort existed here before 999 AD. The remains today are from buildings dating to the 13th Century and a 15th Century tower house. Ravaged by time, they’re still interesting to visit.

In the guide below, you’ll find everything from where to find Dunhill Castle and its history to what to visit nearby.

Some quick need-to-knows before visiting Dunhill Castle

dunhill castle walks
Photo by Andrzej Golik (Shutterstock)

Although a visit to Dunhill Castle in Waterford is fairly straightforward, there are a few need-to-knows that’ll make your visit that bit more enjoyable.

1. Location

Dunhill Castle was built on the river running from Annestown into the Suir and sits on a rocky bluff near the village of Dunhill. The castle was called Danile, and the river at that time was called the River Weasel. The village of Dunhill with a church, pub and shop is approx. 5km away. 

2. Part of the Copper Coast

Stop number 6 on The Copper Coast Trail, you’ll find the ruins of the castle tower house, initially attached to the castle’s front. There are also the outer walls of buildings that surrounded the castle. The walk up to the castle and the magnificent views over the Irish Ocean is easy, and about 1km.

3. Best seen on the Anne Valley walk

This flat, linear, 5km walk with car parks at both ends is perfect for all ages and levels of fitness. Winding through the forest and marshland alongside the River Anne, there’s lots of information about the protected wildlife and plants you will see along the way. Ducks, pheasants, and mute swans are plentiful, as well as lots of domestic birds, so there’s birdsong galore.

The history of Dunhill Castle

The Castle was built by the La Poer (Power) family in the early 13th Century. Dunhill translates to Fort of the Rock, and the local village adopted the name. The castle has a fascinating history. The la Poers first came to Ireland with Strongbow in 1132.

They were granted the City of Waterford and “the whole province thereabouts.” This obviously included Dunhill, and about 50 years later, they built the castle. 

The family were a rowdy bunch, and Waterford City came under attack from them on many occasions. They destroyed the area around the city in 1345, but this time it backfired on them, and they were counter-attacked.

Some leaders were taken prisoner and subsequently hanged. The remaining members of the family then joined forces with the O’Driscoll family, who had a long-running feud with the citizens and merchants of Waterford City.

This unholy alliance continued to attack Waterford over the next 100 years. Many of their leaders were killed on both land and sea. A defeat at Tramore in 1368 saw Dunhill Castle pass to the Powers of Kilmeaden. Obviously, this branch of the family was more into peace than war, and, until 1649 and the arrival of Cromwell, harmony prevailed.

The arrival of Cromwell at Dunhill Castle

Dunhill Castle
Photo by John L Breen (Shutterstock)

When Cromwell laid siege to the Castle in 1649, Lord John Power was away, defending another location. His wife, Lady Gyles, was in charge, and she commanded her soldiers to defend the castle at all costs.

They were doing a great job, and Cromwell became frustrated with the damage inflicted by the castle’s gunners. He was on the verge of giving up when one of the gunners went to Lady Gyles and asked for food and drink for his men.

Lady Gyles gave him buttermilk instead of beer, and he was so angry he sent a message to Cromwell to begin attacking again. The guns were silent, and the castle captured. 

After the battle, the fate of the Powers was unknown, and the castle and lands were gifted to Sir John Cole, who never lived there. The disuse led to the castle and church rotting, and by the 1700s, they had both fallen into ruin. A storm in 1912 collapsed the east wall of the castle, and now it is as it was then. Lovely view, though.

Things to do near Dunhill Castle

One of the beauties of Dunhill Castle is that it’s a short spin away from some of the best places to visit in Waterford.

Below, you’ll find a handful of things to see and do a stone’s throw from Dunhill Castle (plus places to eat and where to grab a post-adventure pint!).

1. Tramore

tramore in waterford
Photo by JORGE CORCUERA (Shutterstock)

You’d want a few days at least to get around all the other attractions in and around Tramore. There are plenty of great restaurants in Tramore and there are plenty of things to do in Tramore if you have a bit of time.

3. Beaches galore

Annestown beach
Photo by Paul Briden (Shutterstock)

Annestown Beach, safe, secluded, and popular with anyone interested in any type of water sport. It’s also a quiet enough beach, so great for relaxing with a book. Bunmahon Beach, beloved by watersport enthusiasts and landlubbers alike (although not safe to swim on) is one of the most impressive beaches in Waterford.

4. Coumshingaun Lough and Mahon Falls

two photos of Coumshingaun
Photo left via Dux Croatorum. Photo right via Andrzej Bartyzel. (on shutterstock.com)

Coumshingaun Lough Loop and the Mahon Falls Walk are two great rambles. The former is tricky, and good fitness is needed while the latter has a long and short trail which are much more doable.

FAQs about visiting Dunhill Castle in Waterford

We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from where to park near Dunhill Castle to what to do nearby.

In the section below, we’ve popped in the most FAQs that we’ve received. If you have a question that we haven’t tackled, ask away in the comments section below.

Is Dunhill Castle wort visiting?

Although we wouldn’t recommend travelling here just to see the castle, it’s a nice stop to include on the Copper Coast Drive or the Anne Valley Walk.

When was Dunhill Castle built?

It was built in the early 13th Century by the la Poer family. The la Poers first came to Ireland with Strongbow in 1132.

Where actually is Dunhill Castle?

You’ll find it near the river running from Annestown into the Suir, where it sits on a rocky bluff not far from the village of Dunhill.

Norah is a writer and self-publisher of fiction and non-fiction. She adores the excitement of unknown places and together with several locations in Ireland, has, over 21 years, made her home in London, The Hague and New Zealand, returning to Ireland with her Kiwi rescue dog Barney, in tow.

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